A top official of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said heads of state and government in the region will meet in an extraordinary summit in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, Abidjan, Tuesday.
Toga Gayewea McIntosh, vice president of the ECOWAS commission, said the conference will focus on finding solutions to resolve Mali’s political crisis, after mutinous soldiers toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure.
“It’s an extraordinary meeting to see how quickly we, as ECOWAS, can bring to some logical conclusion, or some basic understanding, of the development that is currently going on in Mali,” said McIntosh. “It’s in accordance with our protocol and a decision of heads of state, so that, whenever there is a conflict, we could prevent whatever could erupt that will not be in the interest of our people.”
McIntosh said the summit follows consultations ECOWAS leaders had after the ouster of the Malian government.
The West African sub-regional bloc said it will not tolerate any “military adventurism” after mutinous soldiers toppled Toure March 22nd.
ECOWAS, the African Union (AU) and the international community have condemned last week’s coup. The UN Security Council echoed similar sentiments.
In a statement released Monday, the world body called on “mutinous troops” to cease all violence and return to their barracks. The Security Council demanded constitutional order be restored and elections be held in late April, as previously planned.
McIntosh said Tuesday’s summit forms part of ECOWAS’s protocol which, he said, is to ensure peace and stability as well as entrench democracy in the sub-region.
“The preoccupation of this meeting is basically to see how we can engage the players on the ground and see if we can get back on track for the democratic process to take its course,” said McIntosh.
ECOWAS said it will continue with efforts to entrench democracy in West Africa.
McIntosh said expectations about the heads of state and government meeting about Mali are high.
“The continent itself, and the United Nations as a whole, are also looking forward to see what will come out [Tuesday],” said McIntosh. “There is now an understanding that the regional organizations play the leadership role in matters like this. So, this conversation that is going to take place is also going to get input from coming out of the AU, our observation team, as well as the United Nations.”
McIntosh said ECOWAS is working closely with its international partners to resolve the crisis Mali faces.
“The people of Mali deserve all that we can do to make sure that stability comes as quickly as possible and that we do not derail the development process that is taking place in the country currently,” said McIntosh.
Mali was originally scheduled to hold presidential elections in late April to replace Toure.